Confirmed: Sports Direct founder acquires Agent Provocateur

UPDATE: AlixPartners, the firm which has been appointed to oversee adminstration of luxury lingerie brand of Agent Provocateur, has confirmed its sale to Four Holdings, the investment vehicle owned by Mike Ashley, founder and owner of Sports Direct. Read more here

London - Sports Direct is said to have emerged as the new owner of Agent Provocateur, acquiring the struggling luxury lingerie chain via a pre-pack administration deal, according to various media reports.

Agent Provocateur is said to have entered into administration before being sold to Sports Direct invesment vehicle Four Holdings, through a pre-pack deal for approximately 27.5 million pounds. News of a potential, rapid fire sale has led to concerns for the future of the 600 employees working at the high-end lingerie brand, although parent company 3i Group and Sports Direct have yet to confirm, or deny news of Agent Provocateur's fall into administration and acquisition at the time of publication.

Sports Direct said to have acquired Agent Provocateur via pre-pack administration deal

3i Group first put Agent Provocateur up for sale this January after facing a prolonged period of difficult trading conditions following the drop in luxury spending and an accountancy error last November, which led to a 39 million devaluation of the lingerie brand. After struggling against mounting debt and decreasing sales, concerns that Agent Provocateur may fall into administration increased, as news emerged restructuring firm AlixPartners has been hired to lead the sale process last month.

Earlier this week Sports Direct's founder and Chief Executive Officer Mike Ashley was pegged as one of the leading bidders to acquire Agent Provocateur, together with Lion Capital and Terra Firma Capital Partners. Ashley's 27.5 million pound bid for the luxury lingerie retailer was said to be under the 30 million pounds 3i were seeking to cover Agent Provocateur's debt, but seems to have been the winning bid. Some insiders may questions the likelihood of Sports Direct acquiring a luxury lingerie brand, as it does not completely align with the company's portfolio. However, Sports Direct still holds its controlling stake in Flannels, a high-end fashion retailer. In addition, Ashley previously underlined his aim to transform Sports Direct into the "Selfridges of sport" by securing partnerships with upscale brands such as Nike and Adidas.

FashionUnited contacted Sports Direct and 3i for confirmation or denial of the sale, but had yet to receive response at the time of publication.

Photo: By WestportWiki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons





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